90-Year-Old Breaks Records at UNT, Proving Learning Knows No Age Limits

A 90-year-old woman, Minnie Payne, has made academic history by becoming the oldest individual to complete coursework at the University of North Texas (UNT), according to university officials.

Originally hailing from South Carolina, Payne successfully concluded her degree program in interdisciplinary studies online in July, marking a remarkable accomplishment. 

Assistant Dean Billy Roessler commended Payne’s dedication, highlighting her as a true “lifelong learner.”

With a focus on writing, Payne, a mother of two, celebrated her commencement ceremony on December 17 in Denton, Texas, accompanied by her grandson, Payne Billings.

Reflecting on her journey, Payne stated, “I took it day by day.” Her career as a freelance and staff writer in various Texas publications reflects her passion for writing, describing it as therapeutic and constructive.

Prior to her master’s degree, Payne earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Texas Woman’s University in 2006. 

Despite achieving two advanced degrees at the age of 90, she expressed her ongoing commitment to education, stating, “In some way or another, I want to continue learning.”

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Minnie Payne’s Inspiring Educational Journey at UNT

90-year-old-breaks-records-unt-proving-learning-knows-no-age-limits
A 90-year-old woman, Minnie Payne, has made academic history by becoming the oldest individual to complete coursework at the University of North Texas (UNT), according to university officials.

Payne’s early life in an impoverished South Carolina community led her to a diverse career path, from working as a real estate firm clerk to becoming a court reporter at the South Carolina Industrial Commission. 

After a stint as a stay-at-home mom, she resumed her career as a substitute teacher.

Settling in Carrollton, Texas, Payne retired at 68, only to embark on her educational journey, first at Texas Woman’s University and later pursuing a journalism master’s degree at UNT.

Undeterred by the challenges of being a nontraditional student, Payne acknowledged the effort required, stating, “I really had to study and spent many all-nighters.” 

Yet, she succeeded in her pursuit, driven by the goal of personal and familial improvement.

The university spokesperson shared that Payne follows in the footsteps of another remarkable individual who received a master’s in education from UNT in 2009 at the age of 97, making Payne’s achievement an exceptional addition to UNT’s history of nontraditional student success.

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